Austin’s Unique Identity: How ‘Keep Austin Weird’ Became a Cultural Icon
We’re familiar with several city slogans or catchphrases such as- The City That Never Sleeps (NYC), The Windy City(Chicago), City of Angels (Los Angeles) and What Happens Here, Stays Here (Las Vegas) all of which we can determine how these phrases came to be…but have you ever wondered how Austin’s slogan is Keep Austin Weird?!
This phrase originated back in 2000 when a local radio show, The Lounge on KOOP station was taking donations. An Austin Community College professor by the name of Red Wassenich called in to make a donation. The radio show host asked why Red was interested in donating. Red’s reply was that “it helps keep Austin weird”.
Red and his wife decided to coin this phrase when they were discussing the city’s unique and eclectic character and created bumper stickers with this slogan. Soon local businesses such as Waterloo and Bookpeople jumped on the bandwagon making bumper stickers with “Keep Austin Weird”-Support Local Businesses” and other merchandise to promote Keep Austin Weird as not only a phrase that represents the eccentric and non-mainstream aspects of Austin’s culture, but also to promote and preserve the city’s local businesses and artists. A movement of sorts began with small businesses and locals uniting. The slogan encouraged residents and visitors to embrace the city’s individuality and creativity, celebrating its diverse music scene, vibrant arts community, shopping local businesses and unconventional lifestyle choices.
Even after 23 years since its inception, the iconic slogan “Keep Austin Weird” continues to weave its vibrant thread through the fabric of the city. From the eclectic murals adorning the sides of buildings to the independent boutiques and quirky art installations, the spirit of keeping Austin weird is still very much alive. This catchy phrase has become more than just words; it’s a testament to Austin’s commitment to preserving its distinct character. As you wander the streets of this Texas gem, you’ll encounter local businesses proudly displaying the slogan, embracing the city’s individuality, and inviting both residents and visitors to celebrate the unconventional. Whether you’re sipping coffee at a cozy café, enjoying live music at a historic venue, or exploring the diverse neighborhoods, the essence of “Keep Austin Weird” is a constant reminder of the city’s creativity and the enduring legacy of its unique identity.